It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in.

—Isaiah 40:22

I don’t know where heaven is. I read that the people in the space program shot a gold-plated arrow sixty-some thousand miles into the air, and some are wondering if it might not be reaching heaven at last. I have to smile at that, because God does not dwell in space; space is nothing to God. The great infinite heart of God gathers up into Himself all space.

Our space program is like a baby playing with a rubber ball in Wrigley Field. He can’t do anything but bat it around and crawl after it. If he bats it away two feet, he squeals with delight as if he hit a home run. But way out there, 400 feet long, stretches the field. It takes a strong man to knock a ball over the fence.

When man sends up his little arrow, and it reaches the moon and goes into orbit round it, he boasts about it for years to come. Go on, little boy, play with your rubber ball. But the great God who carries the universe in His heart smiles. He is not impressed. He is calling mankind to Himself, to His holiness, beauty, love, mercy and goodness. He has come to reconcile us and call us back. AOG193

It’s so easy, Lord, for us to think too highly of our worldly intellect. Help me to see You anew in all Your glory, that I might see my comparative smallness and my need for You. Amen. [1]

22 The reference to “the circle of the earth” is unique, but see the somewhat similar phrases of Job 26:10; Proverbs 8:27. The expression probably refers to the horizon, although we cannot be certain. Oswalt (in loc.) thinks it more likely that the reference is to the vault of the heavens (Job 22:14). Watts (in loc.) mentions some variants in the LXX MSS.[2]

40:22 sits above the circle of the earth. The word “circle” is applicable to the spherical form of the earth, above which He sits. This implies that God upholds and maintains His creation on a continuing basis (Col 1:17; Heb 1:3). As He looks down, men seem like insects to the One who has stretched and spread out the universal heavens.[3]

40:22 the circle of the earth. Either the bowl-like sky over the earth (Job 22:14) or the outer horizon encircling the earth (Job 26:10). stretches out the heavens like a curtain. A number of passages (Job 9:8; Ps. 104:2; Isa. 42:5; 44:24; 45:12; 51:13; Jer. 10:12; 51:15; Zech. 12:1) use this image (with a verb that means to “pitch” or “stretch out” a tent, cf. Gen. 12:8; 26:25; 33:19; 35:21; Judg. 4:11) to stress that God alone fashioned the heavens and the earth, and prepared them as a place for habitation (to dwell in).[4]

40:22 the circle of the earth Likely refers to the ancient Hebrew idea of a dome or vault over the earth (Gen 1:6–7). The poetic reference also occurs in Job 22:14 and Prov 8:27 with reference to God’s creative power.

the one who stretches out the heavens like a veil See Psa 104:2; Job 9:8. Isaiah makes extensive use of poetic traditions about creation found in Proverbs, Psalms, and Job.[5]

40:22 circle. This is either the horizon, or the hemisphere of the sky over the earth.

tent. God’s creation is compared to a tent He has pitched (42:5; 44:24; 51:13; Ps. 18:11; 19:4).[6]

40:22 “Circle of the earth” refers to the horizon and views God as seated majestically above the earth, looking down.[7]

[1] Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] Grogan, G. W. (2008). Isaiah. In T. Longman III, Garland David E. (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Proverbs–Isaiah (Revised Edition) (Vol. 6, p. 727). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Is 40:22). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[4] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1311). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Is 40:22). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[6] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 1007). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

[7] Criswell, W. A., Patterson, P., Clendenen, E. R., Akin, D. L., Chamberlin, M., Patterson, D. K., & Pogue, J. (Eds.). (1991). Believer’s Study Bible (electronic ed., Is 40:22). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.


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